Monday Morning Coffee

LeBron James

February 15th, 2015

They should have just called it the “Kobe Classic”.  There wasn’t any defense played, but it was very entertaining nevertheless.  The NBA All-Star game is still arguably the best of the four major sports because it’s a phenomenal showcase of talent.  The athleticism and the dunks are more exciting than anything else you will see in any other exhibition, which is exactly what the fans want.  It was great to see Kobe enjoying himself, and all the players enjoying being a part of Kobe’s final All-Star game as well.  I like how the only shred of heated competition was when Paul George needed one point to break Wilt Chamberlain’s single game All-Star scoring record, but Greg Popovich made sure he was double teamed and couldn’t get the record.  Both coaches allowed the players to draw up plays, and didn’t do much coaching.  Tyronn Lue should be used to this by now because that’s usually what happens to coaches in Cleveland.  What was up with Kobe and Westbrook not giving Drake any love after they were introduced? Then again, Kobe is from Philly, and everybody from Philly hates Drake.  Great halftime performance by Sting.  Meanwhile, the players were all Googling “who is Sting?”  Then there’s this dude who should have been in the dunk contest.  And the best part is he did it in jeans!

That was by far the best All-Star Saturday Night I have ever seen.  Sure there have been greater individual moments over the years, but nothing as competitive in each and every competition that we saw.  The slam dunk contest was the best since Dominque Wilkins vs Michael Jordan in 1988.  When did white people learn to jump like that? Aaron Gordon should have beaten Zach Lavine, and at the very least it should have been a tie.  It’s getting harder and harder to come up with dunks that we haven’t seen, yet those two dudes found a way to show new levels of creativity.  Who says the dunk contest is dead? It’s been brought back to life now.  What more did Gordon need to do to win? Cure cancer and AIDS while completing his dunks?  As for the three point shootout, Klay Thompson was great in edging his teammate Steph Curry.  However, imagine how good Devin Booker is going to be once he hits puberty.  Good for Klay, but Steph is still the best shooter in the world.  We also learned that Draymond Green is no better at basketball than Kevin Hart without Steph Curry on the court.  Since Hart beat Green in a 3 point contest, the Lakers are now looking to sign Hart in free agency this summer.  In the skills challenge, too many guys “play it cool” and don’t compete hard, but Karl Anthony Towns busted his ass to win.  I loved seeing it.  The Timberwolves are now considering moving KAT to point guard and Ricky Rubio to center.  Here are the highlights from one of the best dunk contests ever……

I thought both D’Angelo Russell and Jordan Clarkson were great in the Rising Stars challenge.  Both had a shot at the MVP.  Russell shot the lights out and was great at making plays for others in limited playing time.  Clarkson was outstanding as well, but I don’t know what the hell happened to him during the skills competition.  He completely “played it cool” and conceeded his matchup with CJ McCollum.  Makes sense though because the Lakers have been conceding games to their opponents all season.  Of course the battle between D’Angelo and Byron Scott continues.  Byron felt the need to call out D-Lo for his lack of maturity compared to other great point guards he’s coached.  So D’Angelo took a shot back at Byron in priceless fashion in the last 30 seconds of this clip……

There’s plenty of interesting trade rumors out there with the deadline approaching on Thursday.  The biggest one being the rumored three team deal between the Celtics, Knicks, and Cavs.  The Celtics would get Kevin Love, the Cavs would get Carmelo Anthony, and the Knicks would get some of the Celtics assets to build around Kristaps Porzingas.  The Cavs aren’t going to have forever to win a title with Lebron James.  They need to build a roster that can better matchup with the Warriors, and that means adding an elite wing player.  ‘Melo may not be a great defensive player, but he sure would matchup with Draymond Green a lot better than Kevin Love would.  We all know the Celtics want a star player, and the Knicks need to build the right way.  The deal makes a lot of sense for everybody, but probably won’t happen because the trade deadline usually amounts to nothing.

The UCLA basketball season is effectively over after the loss to Arizona on Friday.  Barring a miraculous Pac 12 Conference Tournament win, this team is ticketed for the NIT.  Sure Steve Alford is going to blame the referees for the big free throw disparity on Friday, but that’s just covering up the real issues going on with the Bruins.  There’s a lack of talent, lack of depth, and mediocre coaching that has made the program nearly irrelevant.  Sure there’s a great deal of parity across college basketball right now, but there’s no reason why UCLA should lose some of the games they have this year, to schools that they should be blowing off the floor.  I couldn’t help watch Zach Lavine’s brilliance during the NBA All-Star weekend and wonder how in the hell could Steve Alford limit this kids minutes and not take advantage of his talent while he was in the program?  Too bad that nobody associated with the Bruins athletic program can take a long look in the mirror and give themselves a candid evaluation to turn the program around and put it back where it should be.

Meanwhile, USC basketball is still in great shape.  ESPN’s latest bracketology has them as the 5th seed in the Midwest Region, starting out in Denver.  With the way top ranked teams are losing every week in college basketball, would anybody really be shocked if an athletic team like the Trojans made it to the Final Four? I sure wouldn’t.  Jordan McLaughlin and Julian Jacobs are easily one of the five best backcourts in the country, and USC has an experienced coach in Andy Enfield.  They might not win the Pac 12, but look out come tournament time.  Now if only the Trojan alums knew they actually had a basketball team.

Last week, ESPN’s Keith Law claimed that the Angels farm system was the worst that he has ever seen.  He went on to say that since there is no depth whatsoever that is coming anytime soon, the Angels will need to consider trading Mike Trout in a year or two to fix this problem.  This idea is completely preposterous. The Red Sox traded Babe Ruth.  How did that work out? The Mets traded Nolan Ryan.  How did that work out? I realize that baseball isn’t the NBA, where one player changes the fortunes of your franchise dramatically.  However, prospects are completely overvalued these days in baseball.  You can’t trade a once in a generation talent who is under contract in his prime, for 5 or 6 unproven talents.  The Halos play in a tough division, but they were in playoff contention up until the last few days of the season.  The year before they won the division.  The Angels have a decent team, but their window to win is in the next 3 years, before Albert Pujols decline gets too steep.  Things aren’t nearly as bad for the Halos as most are predicting.  But you don’t trade away superstars for 50 cents on the dollar.

This story about Peyton Manning sexually assaulting a trainer at the University of Tennessee is pretty ugly.  Manning allegedly put his genitals on top of Dr. Jamie Naughright’s head while she was examining him in 1996.  She sued Manning and settled.  Then in 2003 he trashed her in a book, causing her to get fired from her job.  She sued him again, and they settled once more.  This whole incident looks pretty bad for Peyton.  I mean people do stupid things in college, but the details of the story make it look like he’s a total liar, and a complete ass hole.  The one thing I can’t figure out is why Peyton didn’t like Naughright.  It’s not clear, but it was apparent that since Manning arrived at Tennessee in 1994, these two had it out for each other.  This is especially bad news for Peyton at a time where his career is probably going to end, and we should be celebrating his accomplishments.  Instead, as more details come to light, we’re probably going to be tearing him down, as we often do with superstars.  I hope we learn more, but so far, this looks really bad for Peyton, and even worse for Tennessee, which looks like another SEC University that is so obsessed with football, that they will protect the players even under the most immoral circumstances.

The People vs OJ Simpson on FX had another great episode last week.  This time we got to re-live the chase in the Bronco down the freeway, that eventually resulted in OJ turning himself in.  The real fascination with that episode was watching how quickly race emerged in the case.  A number of African Americans were lined up on freeway overpasses with signs cheering OJ on as he ran from the cops.  Those African Americans had incredible mistrust for the LAPD (they still do today), and saw OJ as one of their own, who can win a battle against them.  However, the reality of it was that OJ wasn’t one of them.  In many ways he removed himself from African American culture.  African American women hated OJ for the fact that he had been married to a white woman.  They were cheering for the wrong guy.  It was another good episode, and I’m looking forward to re-living more in the coming weeks.

Finally, The Walking Dead retuned on AMC last night for the 2nd half of the season.  Spoiler alert for those of you who have yet to see it.  This was a very stressful episode, that made you wonder if we were going to lose multiple characters again.  Glenn has caused most of that stress and did again.  That guy is one lucky Asian, whose ass got saved by Sasha and The Sarge, who used a machine gun on the herd of Walkers who were about to take him out.  Then again, Sasha and The Sarge were nearly toast themselves, until Darryl blew away the bikers that were threatening them.  Something tells me Negan is going to exact his revenge on one of those three.  Even Jessie knew that her son Sam was a liability, and tried to pawn him off on Father Gabriel.  Unfortunately, it was Sam that not only led to his own demise, but those of his mother as well.  Poor Rick….the guy fell in love with somebody else and she dies too.  I’m still not really sure how Carl could survive a bullet to the head.  I’m also not sure how a psychiatrist could have the skills necessary to save his life.  Now what’s left of the gang is going to try and rebuild Alexandria.  It seems as though the next major villain is going to be Negan, but are The Wolves gone for good? Their leader died, but it seems like we barely got to know anything about them before they came and went.  Something tells me that Negan is going to be even more evil, and Rick seems to be getting softer and more humane, which could make the group vulnerable. 

Daryl Bazooka


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